Last Updated on October 10, 2023
- A poisoned creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
How Does the Poisoned Condition Work in DnD 5e?
The poisoned condition D&D 5e is a simple, sweeping debuff of your character’s capabilities. While it doesn’t interfere with your ability to cast spells, roll saving throws, or move around, being poisoned imposes disadvantage on all attack rolls (including shoving and grappling), as well as ability checks.
Essentially, anything active that requires a d20 is probably going to be done at disadvantage while you’re poisoned.
On the other hand, things that don’t require an ability check, or that are reactive, typically don’t.
- Climbing a ladder using your movement speed? No problem.
- Scaling a rain-slick cliff face by making an Agility (Athletics) check? Disadvantage.
- Resisting a succubus’ Charm with a Wisdom save? No disadvantage.
- Threatening the Succubus into retreating with a Charisma (Intimidation) check? Definitely harder to do when you’re clutching your guts in agony. Disadvantage.
Where the poisoned condition gets a little fiddly is at the intersection between poisons (both common poisons, magical ones, and magic items like the Dagger of Venom), poison damage, and the poisoned condition. Not all three are the same, although there’s plenty of overlap.
We did a big article on poisons in D&D 5e which gives a complete breakdown of poisons, poison damage, poisonous magic items, and crafting your own poisons. Here, we’re just going to clear up a few things you absolutely need to know about the poisoned condition specifically.
- The poisoned condition does not damage you.
- Taking poison damage does not apply the poisoned condition.
- Avoiding the poisoned condition almost always involves a Constitution saving throw.
- Not all poisons apply the poisoned condition; some just inflict poison damage.
- Basic Poison applied to your weapon only deals additional poison damage, and does not apply the poisoned condition.
- Immunity or resistance to poison damage doesn’t equal immunity to the poisoned condition, and vice versa.
- There is no set duration for the poisoned condition. The duration is included in the description of the effect that applies it. Some are as short as a minute, while others can last for weeks.
- Only two spells inflict the poisoned condition: Ray of Sickness (1st), and Contagion (5th)
How to Get the Poisoned Condition
- Consume poison that applies the poisoned condition. Fairly straightforward stuff. But, remember: not all poisons apply the poisoned condition. Remember to always read the label, kids. If it has a badass skull and crossbones on it, it’s probably super radical gamer fuel. [Editor’s note. For legal reasons, this is obviously a joke. Please, don’t drink poison. Not even a little bit, as a treat]
- Creature abilities, including obvious specimens like Giant Spiders and Carrion Crawlers, but also a large number of devils and demons including the Pit Fiend and the Vrock.
- Spells, as stated above, these are rare.
How to Stop Being Poisoned in DnD 5e
- Pass a saving throw. Usually, if you fail a saving throw to avoid becoming poisoned, most effects will allow you to repeat the saving throw again. Shorter duration poisons usually allow saving throws to be attempted more often—at the end of each round, for example—while others might only allow one save per day.
- Cast a Spell. Several spells in D&D 5e can end the poisoned condition:
- Lesser Restoration (2nd)
- Protection from Poison (2nd)
- Heroes’ Feast (6th)
Several other spells, like the 4th level Aura of Purity, can also grant advantage on saving throws to avoid becoming poisoned.
- Racial features.
- Dwarven Resilience grants advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance to poison damage.
- Stout Resilience grants advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance to poison damage.
- Infernal Constitution, a Tiefling feat that grants advantage on saving throws against being poisoned (condition).
- Class Features. There are also several class and subclass feats that prevent the poisoned condition (in addition to negating or reducing poison damage).
- Lay on Hands (Paladin, 1st level) can end instances of the poisoned condition in addition to restoring hit points.
- Purity of Body (Monk, 10th level) grants immunity to poison damage and the poisoned condition.
- Nature’s Ward (Druid, 10th level, Circle of the Land) grants immunity to poison damage and the poisoned condition.
- Master Transmuter, Panacea (Transmutation Wizard, 14th level) subclass feature allows you to end a wide array of harmful effects, including the poisoned condition.
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Rich is an avid D&D player and DM. He has been playing since the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd editions. He has run campaigns of various editions with family and friends for over 20 years. Playing DnD 5th Edition in person at local game stores and online with VTT’s over the past 10 years has provided a consistent connection to how the game has grown. He strongly believes in understanding the source material, but catering the games to your individual players. Feel free to ask anything in the comments or drop him an email: [email protected].